Whether you are trying avocados for the first time, or are a fan already, you may be surprised just how much of a super-food avocados are.
Besides being healthy, avocados are a delicious treat. Give avocados a try today and find out how easy it is to incorporate this powerhouse fruit into your diet.
First of all, the avocado is a fruit, even though it may taste like a vegetable. The avocado or 'alligator pear' refers to the fruit of the avocado tree. Avocados may be pear-shaped, egg-shaped, or spherical. Strange as it seems, the avocado is actually a large berry containing a large seed. Avocados are an economically and nutritionally valuable fruit cultivated in tropical climates throughout the world.
As anyone who has ever bought an avocado knows, the avocado is often pretty firm, even hard, when you buy it. Then, in a few days on your counter top, it gets softer. That is because avocados ripen after harvesting, when the fruit begins releasing a chemical similar to that of a banana.
Originally found in Puebla, Mexico, the avocado we see in stores in the United States is quite different from the avocado found in other regions. The oldest avocado found dates back to almost 10,000 BC. It was found in a cave in Coxcatlan, Mexico where Puebla is today. To promote the propagation of avocados around the world, the plant was introduced to the Indonesian culture in the mid 1700's, Brazil in the early 1800's, Levant in the 1900's, and South Africa and Australia in the late 19th century.
Avocados were known by the Aztecs as 'the fertility fruit' because of its supposed aphrodisiac qualities. In Nahuatl avocado is called ahuacatl and is found compounded with other words, as in ahuacamolli, meaning avocado soup or sauce, from which the word guacamole is derived. It is also known as Butter Fruit in parts of India due to its butter-like texture.
The average avocado tree produces about 1,200 avocados annually. Commercial orchards produce, on average, seven tons per hectare (about 2.5 acres) each year with some orchards reaching upwards of 20 tons per hectare.
The term 'good fat' may seem strange, but nutritionists know the facts; our body needs it to function properly. One source of this 'good fat' is avocados.
To tell if an avocado is ripe, hold it in the palm of your hand and squeeze gently. It should yield to a gentle pressure. A ripe avocado is easy to peel if you cut down lengthwise and twist the avocado slightly to split it in half. The pit can be popped out by inserting the blade of a knife into the pit and giving a nudge. Then, use the knife tip to slice through the flesh of the avocado, but not the outside peel, in sections and turn the nubby peeling inside-out and the ripe flesh will pop out.
Florida avocados have less fat than California avocados. If worried about the fat content in guacamole, it can be made light by susbstituting half of the avocado with same amount of tomatillos or raw peas.
Hass avocados are the best for sauces and soups, and for mashing as in guacamole. Use Reed avocados for salads, cocktail avocados for garnishing.
Preparation and cooking
Generally, avocado is served raw because many varieties cannot be cooked without turning bitter. However, there are a few dishes that call for brief heating in the oven just until the avocado is warmed through. Some of the more popular uses of avocado is in guacamole or other types of salsas, atop a bright green salad, or even on hamburgers and sandwiches. Avocados are found in many varieties of sushi, too.
The flesh of an avocado is prone to enzymatic browning, meaning it turns brown quickly after exposure to air. To prevent this, lemon juice or lime juice can be sprinkled on the avocado after the peeling is removed. Not only does the citrus juice slow the browning process, but it compliments the flavor of the avocado. In fact, avocado dishes often call for the addition of fresh lime or lemon juice. because their facility to discolor, it is best to add avocado to any dish at the last possible moment..
Due to the high fat content, many countries blend the avocado with other fruits and vegetables to make smoothie-like drinks. You may also find avocados used as an additive or filler for ice cream since the flavor profile is extremely subtle, the texture is creamy, and the flesh of the avocado can take on just about any flavor you subject it to.
Avocado leaves can be toasted and used as a condiment. Their use is similar to that of bay leaf.